Drowsy driving can be extremely dangerous for you and for everyone else on the road. Being tired can negatively impact your reaction time, ability to focus and awareness of surroundings, and sleepiness leads to numerous motor vehicle collisions every year.
Most people can prevent being dangerously tired by sleeping at least seven hours every night, but it may not always be that simple. If you are often tired during the day, you may have an undiagnosed sleep disorder.
Signs that may indicate you have a sleep disorder
Some common sleep disorders include sleep apnea, insomnia, shift work disorder, non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder, narcolepsy and restless legs syndrome. Although being tired can be a symptom of any of these disorders, there are a few other symptoms to watch for as well.
Other signs to look for, include:
- Heavy snoring
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory loss
- Falling asleep unintentionally
- Occasional morning headaches
- Mood changes
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Challenges staying asleep
- Weight gain
- High blood pressure
- Holding your breath when you sleep
Don’t let sleepiness cause an accident
If you think you may have an undiagnosed sleep disorder, it is important to talk to your doctor about your concerns right away. In the meantime, try to avoid driving when you are too tired to drive safely.
You may be too tired to drive if you are yawning or blinking frequently or if you are having difficulty focusing. If you are driving and you catch yourself hitting the rumble strip, missing exits or drifting from your lane, it may be necessary to pull over somewhere safe to take a 20-minute nap.
It may be prudent to avoid driving altogether until you receive any necessary treatment. Consider carpooling with a family member, friend or coworker, or consider taking public transportation. An undiagnosed sleep disorder is not only dangerous to you, it is dangerous to everyone who shares the road.